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White Sox: James Shields Becoming Another Bad Acquisition

Jun 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher James Shields (25) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago White Sox starting pitcher James Shields (25) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

White Sox getting poor results from acquisition of James Shields

White Sox fans have become used to seeing the team acquire all-star veterans who are past their primes. However, nothing could prepare White Sox fans for what they’ve endured over the past week and a half.

Newly acquired starting pitcher James Shields has not only had poor starts, but he’s been unable to last more than five innings in any contest. The White Sox designated Mat Latos for assignment before trading for Shields because Latos wasn’t able to go deep into games. John Danks was designated for assignment after yielding six earned runs against the Baltimore Orioles in April. Although one of his strengths was his durability, Danks clearly was losing command of his pitches and a change was necessary.

With a pitching rotation in dire need of depth, the White Sox attempted to sign Tim Lincecum, but the former two-time Cy Young Award winner signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team then turned their attention towards acquiring Shields. The White Sox were shown warning signs of Shields quick decline in his last start for the San Diego Padres. Shields gave up 10 earned runs in two innings against the Seattle Mariners. This didn’t stop the White Sox from pursuing him.

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The White Sox traded Erik Johnson and Fernando Tatis Jr. to the Padres for Shields. The notion behind acquiring Shields was his reputation as an innings eater. Shields has pitched more than 200 innings in a season since 2007. That reputation hasn’t been on display as the move to the White Sox is showing a different Shields. The native of San Diego not only can’t command the strike zone, but he has issued eight walks in eight innings pitched. Shields has also given up four home runs in three starts with the White Sox.

With the recent struggles from Shields, White Sox fans will be quick to proclaim his acquisition as another failure among a long list of other failed trades or signings. Who could blame them? Since being acquired from the Padres, Shields has given up 21 earned runs in three starts. Quickly this trade for Shields is becoming one of many bad acquisitions by the White Sox. For years under Ken Williams as White Sox general manager, the team would either trade or sign players who were well past their primes.

This method of buying low on aging stars was written about by Dave Cameron at fangraphs.com. The White Sox, along with other teams have tried this method over the past two seasons and the results have been quite poor. Cameron wrote in detail about past trades for former all-stars Troy Tulowitzski, Matt Kemp and Prince Fielder and they’re sharp declines.

Although Cameron believes Shields can turn his season around, he wonders if the White Sox could be having second thoughts on Shields.

"It’s likely that Shields will turn things around, as he’s not the worst pitcher baseball has ever seen, but you have to think the White Sox are already wondering if the Padres sold them a lemon."

The White Sox have seen their fair share of failures with new acquisitions. From David Wells to Jeff Samardzija, this team has built a reputation of getting the least out of players they acquire. The team’s continued trust in former all-star players has been upsetting with many White Sox fans along with being constantly questioned by members of the media.

With a season on the brink after a 23-10 start, the White Sox could ill-afford more poor starts from their new acquisition. Shields inability to last more than five innings is making the move to designate Latos for assignment look foolish with every start.

Next: Will James Shields Destroy White Sox Bullpen?

If Shields is unable to turn his season around quickly, could become sellers at the trading deadline. The decision to acquire Shields after he displayed warning signs of being ineffective could potentially cost manager Robin Ventura his job as manager.